Carved Tracery Heads
Carved Tracery Heads

Carved Tracery Heads

c. 1470 England

Offered by Shaw Edwards Antiques


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Two English Oak Tracery Heads, circa 1470, their carved style, and the timber quality, indicates that they are probably from the West Country, Devon, and possibly from a screen. The overall design has running five-cusped Gothic arches below, and reversed divided arches to the top. They are of great rarity given the nature of the representations within each section. The simpler one has three leaf motifs to its left, with a finely carved pair of leaf and bud figures at its centre. Next to this is a winged creature with a beaked head and scales on its lower body which becomes the tail of a fish, these “bird fishes” were the precursors to the Mermaid. Alongside this “bird fish” are two stylised Pomegranates within foliate backgrounds. The seeds of the Pomegranate were seen as symbolising “the faithful held together in the body of the church”, and as “one of the joys of Heaven being a fruit promised to the Children of Israel when they would reach the promised land.”

The “partner” panel is altogether more exciting. Design wise it splits into two sections. To the left there are a pair of Hoopoes looking away from each other and between the initials “T” and “A”. According to the Bestiary, the Hoopoe, whilst it was a “horrid” bird due to its habit of feeding on dung hills, the young birds in fact took great care of their parents so they drew the comparison to the bible “God commanded that men should honour father and mother”. The right hand half has a leaf with a beast’s head facing a snail. In Medieval times, snails were associated with greed and avarice, or with cowardice. The end section has a bird, possibly meant to depict a Dove, facing a naked human figure with hands clasped. This section is seven centimetres wider than its partner piece from which one can infer that it was probably located in a more prominent and differently proportioned part of the screen.

This panel has been cut and rejoined at the centre and has a metal strip along the top. They both have side framing presumably to make them both the same width.
Height 77.00 cm (30.31 inches)
Width 18.00 cm (7.09 inches)
Stock Code
Two OakTracery Heads
Shaw Edwards Antiques

Shaw Edwards Antiques
Reading, Berkshire.
Also Edenbridge Galleries
1 The Square
Edenbridge, Kent

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